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Desmond's walk-off HR puts Rox in tie for WC

Rockies half-game out of top spot, 1 back in West; Freeland sets stage
August 23, 2018

DENVER -- The Rockies added Matthew Holliday's big bat to their lineup for Thursday's rubber match with the Padres, but it was the hot hand of Ian Desmond who broke through Colorado's slumbering lumber to win the game with a two-run walk-off homer, stealing a 4-3 win to take the

DENVER -- The Rockies added Matthew Holliday's big bat to their lineup for Thursday's rubber match with the Padres, but it was the hot hand of Ian Desmond who broke through Colorado's slumbering lumber to win the game with a two-run walk-off homer, stealing a 4-3 win to take the series and secure a tie for second in the National League Wild Card race.
The Rockies were held to five hits through the first seven innings, but they tapped into their "LoDo" magic to walk off for the third time in their last five home games -- and record their fifth win in the last two weeks in games where they'd been trailing after eight innings. They picked up a half-game on the D-backs, who didn't play Thursday, to sit a game behind the NL West leaders. Tied with the idle Brewers for the second Wild Card spot -- though with an edge of .001 percentage point -- they are a half-game behind the Cardinals for the top Wild Card spot.
Holliday homecoming: Vet returns to Rockies
"That's kind of been our M.O. for the past seven or eight games, coming from behind late and winning games," starting pitcher Kyle Freeland said. "It's not the easiest way to do it, and it's definitely high pressure, but at the end of the day it's a 'W' on the board."
The Rockies were down, 3-2, with two outs in the ninth, and Trevor Story on second. Story had blooped a single to right off Padres closer Kirby Yates, who struck out Nolan Arenado to open the inning and fanned Gerardo Parra after Story's hit, setting the stage for Desmond.
"After the way that Kyle pitched today -- he came out and did a great job, the bullpen came in and did a great job, Jake [McGee] had probably one of his better outings of the year -- in that situation with two outs, runners in scoring position, I was really just trying to be short, trying to get the next guy to the plate," Desmond said.
But after Desmond turned on Yates' 1-0 offering and drove it 419 feet over the left-field fence, there was no need for another Rockie to come to the plate.
"If you keep the game close, anything can happen," manager Bud Black said. "One big swing can get it done."

Freeland was masterful on the mound through his first five scoreless innings. He allowed five hits and a walk through the first five frames, then yielded a rocket of a solo homer from Hunter Renfroe in the top of the sixth to lose the lead and tie the game.
"I left one up to Renfroe," Freeland said. "Tried to get it in, didn't get in far enough. We flooded the area a lot his first two at-bats, so he was probably seeing dead red right there. Got his pitch and put a great swing on it, put it out. Other than that, everything was working well. Me and Chris [Iannetta, his catcher] were on the same page the entire game."

After a one-out single from A.J. Ellis in the top of the seventh, Freeland saw his day come to a close. He ended up allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings. It was his ninth quality start at home and his fourth in a row. He is 7-2 with a 2.27 ERA at home.
"Kyle's been so consistent," said Black. "That's the thing I'm really proud of and impressed by, just the consistency over the last 3 1/2 months. He's taking the ball deep into the game, his strike-throwing ability, his ability to make big pitches at certain key parts of the game -- as a second-year pitcher, he's made big strides since his rookie season."

The seventh inning was rough for the Rockies, as Bryan Shaw came in for Freeland and faced three batters without recording an out. He walked pinch-hitter William Myers, then Freddy Galvis reached base on a rare error from Story and Jose Pirela plated Ellis and Myers with a single up the middle for a 3-2 lead. Shaw's runs were unearned, keeping his ERA at 3.00 in 13 outings since returning from the disabled list (right calf strain) on July 11.

The Rockies are now 50-6 in games when the opposition scores three or fewer runs.
Holliday was 0-for-3 in his 2018 season debut, and did not have a play in the outfield before Parra replaced him in the top of the seventh as a defensive switch.

"You got to win these games, especially at home," Holliday said. "When something special's happening, you find ways to win games.
"No disrespect to the Padres, but they're a team that we need to beat if we want to get where we want to go, so it was a really big win for us."
Looking back at Holliday's top Rox moments
David Dahl's eventful day was almost lost in the late-inning heroics. He had two of the Rockies' three hits through the first five frames against rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi, lacing a double to right in his first at-bat in the third. He advanced on a Chris Iannetta single to left, then got caught in a rundown when Freeland dropped a sacrifice bunt. Charlie Blackmon hit into an inning-ending double play to rob the Rockies of the chance to plate a man from third with no outs.

But Dahl made up for the lost opportunity in his next at-bat, driving Lucchesi's 2-0 pitch 436 feet over the center-field fence and into the visitors' bullpen to break a scoreless tie in the fifth inning.

"I did [think it had a chance to leave the park], and then I remembered there was a tornado blowing in from left field. Most of the time, that ball goes out of the park. I've hit a few homers here, and I know what it feels like. I thought I had one, and then I looked up and saw the parachute pop." -- Holliday, on his sharp flyout in the fifth inning

As Holliday made his 2018 debut for the Rockies on Thursday, he was walking in a pair of cleats he wore in 2007. Holliday's new shoe order is scheduled to arrive Friday, so the team had to scramble to find some size 14s for Holliday. Rockies vice president of community and retail operations Jim Kellogg pulled a pair of cleats from an archived '07 uniform of Holliday's, and Holliday wore the old pair in his first game back.
"Apparently not many guys around here wear 14s," Holliday said. "They found some of my old shoes from '07, so I wore some shoes that hadn't been worn in a few years. Hoping to pick some of that '07 mojo off of my shoes."

Players' Weekend kicks off Friday, with "Senze," Antonio Senzatela, toeing the rubber for the Rockies, while the Cardinals counter with Miles Mikolas ("Mik") in a battle of right-handers to open a three-game set with Wild Card implications. Senzatela moved from the bullpen to the rotation in July, and is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in six subsequent starts. Both of his wins came at home, pitching 12 2/3 innings and allowing just one run for a 0.71 Coors Field ERA as a starter this season. He pitched five innings of two-run ball in Atlanta on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. MT.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to based in Denver.